The Unlucky History of Friday the 13th

This post has become an annual tradition for me.   Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will recognize this post from past Friday the 13ths. I like Friday the 13th and this is my way of celebrating the 13th and its long history.  Friday the 13ths is considered the most unlucky day of the year. Most people aren't entirely sure where this bad luck comes from, but fear of Friday the 13th can affect as many as 1 in 4 people. The fear of Friday the 13th is known as triskaidekaphobia.

"It's been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.

So where does this fear that can cripple a nation come from? There really seems to be no consensus on the origin of Friday the 13th. Everyone has a story, but most of them are different. The fear comes from an unknown source. Here's a look at a few of the Friday the 13th origin stories I've found.

One folklorist traces the origins back to Norse mythology. There were 12 gods who had a dinner party in Valhalla. A 13th guest, Loki, was uninvited. Always the trickster, Loki tricked the god of darkness, Hoder, into shooting Balder, the god of joy. Balder died and darkness descended on the earth. Joy was lost to man and from then on 13 was considered unlucky.

In 1307, on October 13, 1307, King Phillip IV of France ordered every member of the order of the Knights Templar executed on charges of high treason and heresy. King Phillip owed the Templar's a good deal of money and they had amassed an enormous amount of wealth on their crusades. It is thought that the order was actually to strip the Templar's of their wealth. The Templar's were tortured horribly and forced to confess to crimes they didn't commit. They all died, but as the grandmaster died he cursed King Phillip and the day making Friday the 13th unlucky for future generations to come.

Many believe the fear comes from the number 13 itself. According to numerologist, the number 12 is associated with completeness. There are 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 apostles, 12 Olympian gods, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 hours in the clock, 12 labors of Hercules. The list goes on and on. The addition of the 13 ruins perfection is utterly bad and unlucky. In many stories, the 13th guest is always a bad sign. Think Judas at the last supper and Loki in the above story. It is the number 13 that lends the curse to Friday the 13th. Combine that with the unlucky Friday, when Jesus was crucifies and Adam tempted Eve and you have a recipe for an unlucky day.

It is clear there are many reasons to fear the dreaded Friday the 13th, but for me Friday the 13ths have always been lucky. So have a happy Friday the 13th, watch one of the 12 million Friday the 13th movies (I like the one in space), and wish me luck on my lucky day


Courtney Mroch said…
Interesting. I like the quote you used at the beginning. Interesting. I've never avoided business or travel on Friday the 13th. And I'm SHOCKED not one of the movies is on AMC or Syfy tonight. They're slacking!
jim warfield said…
A millionaire who owned a factory 30 miles from me always waited til Friday 13th to break ground for his new additions, he lived to be 95 and made tons of money...broneli
Pam Morris said…
interesting blog entry, my friend and happy friday the 13th!!!
Jessica Penot said…
Courtney... I can't believe there are no Friday the 13th movies on today. They should be playing them back to back.

Jim.. Thanks for the info. Maybe I should try that and see if I can acquire some Friday the 13th luck.

Pam.. Thanks!
Jeffery said…
Relics of Christian propaganda for the feeble minded..I do like how it has inspired so much creativity though!
Cheers Jess!
I decided a few years ago that I would make Friday the 13th a lucky day instead! And so it is! ;)
magikalseasons said…
Great post I was unaware of the Norse mythology! 13 is one of my lucky numbers but I do know several people who will not travel that day.
laughingwolf said…
the unwashed also claim a witches coven is composed of 12... when it has 13, that one is 'the devil'...

what a crock... not only is their no 'devil' in wiccan belief, neither is the a solitary, divine 'god'... rather there is a plethora of gods AND goddesses... pick which one you want to follow, or all

grats on your new book, mentioned by a reviewer in one of the groups i'm in on fb! :)
Jessica Penot said…
Jeffrey... It has inspired a lot of creatiivity.

Little Gothic Horrors... Friday the 13th has always been lucky for me so I think making it your lucky day is a good idea.

magikal seasons.. I know a lot of people who won't travel on Friday the 13th. It seems strange to me.

Laughing Wolf... I had heard that before about the devil being the 13th member of a coven but I hadn't connected it with Friday the 13th until you mentioned it. Thanks for bringing the two together for me.
Julie Ferguson said…
I know some people who will not come out of their house on Friday the 13th. They are terrified of something bad happening to them. One the other hand, I had many good things happen on Friday the 13th.
Julie Ferguson said…
It should say "on" the other hand, not "one". I need to proofread more often...haha!
Ive noticed that many buildings will never number a floor with the number 13.

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